Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Reading Ability Protects Brain From Lead Exposure

Date:
August 3, 2007
Source:
American Academy of Neurology
Summary:
Lead smelter workers who are better readers have more protection against the effect of lead exposure on the brain than those who do not read as well, according to a study on the impact of cognitive reserve.

Lead smelter workers who are better readers have more protection against the effect of lead exposure on the brain than those who do not read as well, according to a study on the impact of cognitive reserve published in the July 31, 2007, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

It has long been known that occupational lead exposure has negative effects on nerves and a number of areas of brain functioning. Certain well-ingrained brain functions, however, seem resistant to the effects of lead exposure. One of these is reading ability, which is also an indicator of cognitive reserve, or the brain's ability to maintain function in spite of damage. Genetics, education and childhood cognitive abilities are factors which may contribute to cognitive reserve.

The study involved 112 smelter workers in New Brunswick, Canada. The workers underwent several cognitive and motor speed tests and a measure of reading ability. The researchers calculated working lifetime lead exposure from historic blood lead levels obtained by the smelter. The workers were then divided into groups with high cognitive reserve, defined as a reading level of 12th grade or higher, and low cognitive reserve, a reading level of 11th grade or lower.

"Even though the two groups had similar lead exposure, the cognitive effects of lead were 2.5 times greater in workers with low reading ability. In contrast, the effect of lead on motor speed was comparable in both groups as cognitive reserve does not apply to motor speed," said study author Margit L. Bleecker, MD, PhD, with the Center for Occupational and Environmental Neurology in Baltimore, MD, and member of the American Academy of Neurology. "This suggests that high cognitive reserve has a protective effect that allowed these workers to maintain their functioning, even though lead affected their nervous system as shown by its effect on their motor skills."

Bleecker says there are multiple theories on how cognitive reserve protects against insults to the brain. "These include an increased concentration of cortical synapses in larger brains that provide more brain capacity, a greater ease of using alternative brain circuits, and the ability to process tasks more efficiently in current brain circuits," said Bleecker.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Academy of Neurology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Academy of Neurology. "Reading Ability Protects Brain From Lead Exposure." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070730165007.htm>.
American Academy of Neurology. (2007, August 3). Reading Ability Protects Brain From Lead Exposure. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070730165007.htm
American Academy of Neurology. "Reading Ability Protects Brain From Lead Exposure." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070730165007.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) — China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins